Feb 20, 2024 - Health

More than half of U.S. newborns got RSV protection

Illustration of a blue teddy bear with orange band-aid on its arm.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

More than half of U.S. newborns now appear to be protected by new RSV vaccines, according to updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Why it matters: The virus is considered the second leading cause of death worldwide during the first year of a child's life. The data suggests demand was strong despite broader vaccine skepticism and the potential for confusion over more childhood immunization options.

What they found: CDC figures through January show 40.5% of females with an infant 8 months or younger reported the child received the antibody Beyfortus, which was developed by Sanofi and AstraZeneca and approved by the FDA last July.

  • In addition, 16.2% of individuals 32 or more weeks into a pregnancy had coverage through Pfizer's maternal vaccine Abrysvo, which was approved in August.
  • Uptake of the maternal shot was highest among Asian people (22.8%) and lowest among non-Hispanic Black people (9.5%), the CDC said.

Between the lines: The number of RSV cases started increasing as early as July, but hospitalizations over the winter have been lower than the 2022-2023 respiratory virus season, when an uptick of cases strained some children's hospitals.

  • Beyfortus is available to infants younger than 8 months old born during their first season of RSV, and for children 8 to 19 months old who are at high risk of severe RSV and entering their second RSV season.
  • RSV vaccine uptake among adults age 60 and older who also are more vulnerable to the virus as a group stands at about 22.4%, with coverage lowest in Mississippi (13%) and highest in Washington state (35.1%).
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